A Kiss


is still a kiss…

Due to popular request (two?) here’s how this shot happened.

First off, I’m now back in the mood, meaning that the camera is always around my neck.  I walk down two flights of stairs and look through the glass door and it’s raining lightly.  I like to try and get a feeling of the drops of rain (which are visible in the non-web image and also the girl’s hair is completely matted down)… But okay, so I know that I’m going to want a fast shutter speed and I set the camera to 800 ASA and shutter priority at 1/500th or 1/1000th) with an f1.4 lens (the 50mm on full frame) this is probably going to be fine.

And I also transfer focus lock to the back of the camera for street shooting.

And I just walk out of the house with the camera hidden (because of the weather) under my coat, an umbrella, two bags of garbage, and a package to drop off at Fedex on the corner.  Out the door and turn to the right and I immediately see this couple (from the other side) and they’re having a very emotional moment.  The woman is upset about something and is crying.

I think about raising the camera to my eye – but a) I don’t want to really intrude on her private moment and b) I feel bad for them, whatever they’re going through and I pass by them.  As I walk towards the Fedex store, I turn around once and they are still in that emotional state.  I drop off the package, chat with the owner – I’m pretty friendly with most of the store owners in the neighborhood and to my surprise, when I turn the corner to return home, I see that the couple haven’t moved, and that the mood has completely changed.

I sense now that they are going to kiss.  I’m about 1/2 a city block away and I have the umbrella out now, and am trying to get closer without calling attention to myself.  I remember checking the top of the camera to see what the f-stop is going to be and it reads about f2.0.  I’m also beginning to scout for anything else that I might put in the shot.  Other than the older woman who is walking towards me, and I know her and know she will turn into her building…  And I’m also wondering whether a kiss on the street is even worth the effort or not, and I’m getting closer and they still haven’t kissed.

She’s laughing.  Still, maybe, but I don’t know if I want to waste my one shot on the laugh… and I actually turn my back to them and pretend to take pictures of stuff that’s around… and I’m still not really close enough…  And they’re are somewhat aware of what’s going on around them…  and so I decide this is stupid, I can’t stand on the sidewalk and wait for the kiss.  So I turn and with the camera actually to my eye, and focusing as I walk… and now I’m maybe 6 or 8 sidewalk boxes away… and yes, they do move to kiss and for a moment I’m still not sure… but then I notice that even though they are both short – she is on her tippy toes – and the woman going into the apartment… well it’s very close… and I move even closer and stop and take three shots in rapid succession… and just as I finish I get the feeling that they have noticed me, but at the same time don’t really care… and they turn to walk and we’re actually walking almost side by side now and I can hear their conversation.

She was upset about some mix-up having to do with their lunchtime date…  and they wander off, talking about where they will eat, and I make the left and go back into my building.

I don’t look at the images on the back of the camera when I get upstairs.  The camera sits for a few moments on top of a cabinet and I’m thinking about whether I did get anything worthwhile or not.  After a half-hour has gone by, I load them into Lightroom.  Yes, I did get one laugh shot which as I suspected didn’t work for me.  And one decent kiss, but it’s slightly out-of-focus and will have to be cropped on top of that… and I missed what I wanted with the older woman…  Exposure and general look are fine…

And that’s how the shot happened.  Anticipation. Luck, but not enough luck.  And just curiosity on my part and the fact that they took forever to get the lunch thing figured out.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

8 thoughts on “A Kiss”

  1. ATTENTION Hallmark shoppers, we have a special on aisle 9 for the next 15 minutes. Show your loved one how you really feel this holiday season…..

    Maybe I’m just getting old (duh), but studies of ‘youthful’ behaviors such as this pique my observational tendencies as though watching an organism divide and multiply in a petri dish. Whereas before I was somehow ‘bound’ into the experience due to my own innate comparisons of my onboard lust and desires, it now comes across more as a scientist observing a grand experiment. Perhaps a mixture of both though, as I’m not completely dead to the emotional concepts described here.

  2. Mike, I don’t know if you’re serious or not? But if you are, it’s not posed. If it had been posed I would have had them do the kiss somewhere more interesting.

    Several people said that about my Taste of Snow shot. Believe me – I’ll let you know when it’s posed. I will do what I call street portraits, where the person knows they are being photographed and agree to it – but you almost always can see that as they are almost formal portraits.

    And I did once ask a woman if she would pose for me, just walk towards me several times… it actually wasn’t as good as my unposed shots. Brings up an area that I really haven’t done much with – working with models, posing etc. Something about it – well – I guess it doesn’t feel real to me, but that’s probably because I wouldn’t be very good at it.

    I would like to work with models at some point – but it would be more along the lines of meshing them into “real” crowds etc. The idea of being able to follow a beautiful woman – or for that matter a man – around to catch the “real” reactions – I’ve had that in mind for a long time.

  3. You say if you posed them, you would have them kiss in a more visually interesting place. What would be fascinating to me is to take us through the process of how you captured an image like this (it doesn’t have to be this one). I mean, as in:

    “I was standing there because I thought the lady with the bags was gonna sprout wings and take off. I mean, it just looked like that’s where she was heading. I wasn’t paying attention to those two and then ‘bam’ the lady turns into the doorway and I see these two smooching and I just panned a bit and caught them. Lucky shot.”

    Or maybe . . .

    “I saw these two lip-locked when I came around the corner. At first I didn’t think the kiss would last very long but then they just kept at it, so I figured ‘why not?’ and put the camera to my eye and bang!”

    I ask this because a scene like this can be so fleeting that you either have to be a) lucky, or b) anticipate it, or c) a little of both. It’s not like your discussion of umbrellas and stormy weather, where you can go out on a particular kind of day and look for situations like this.

  4. I don’t know about Dave, but when I was a kid, I never missed a single show of Alan Funt’s “Candid Camera”, even though it was on late Sunday night and my parents wanted me in bed for school the next day.

    Playing pranks on people and watching their reactions isn’t exactly the highest form of entertainment. But the other night, I was out listening to live music, and they had one of these new prank shows on the TV over the bar.

    The sound was off, but you could tell the idea of the prank was to have a blind guy with a seeing-eye dog and a map ask a passerby for directions. The blind guy would then hand the map to the good samaritan and ask him to explain the directions to the dog.

    I started laughing out loud. The victims of the prank actually got down on their knees and tried to explain to the dog where to go, pointing to the map as reference.

    Then the blind guy pulls out a big pair of glasses and tells the good samaritans that the dog doesn’t see very well and asks them to put the glasses on the dog.

    I almost fell off the bar stool laughing, watching these guys explaining directions to a dog wearing glasses. Again, this is not a high form of humor, but it was hilarious. I think street photographers are wannabe Alan Funts.

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